T’ai Chi is an ancient art form, where the artist perfects the art of being and doing while attuning with the Tao.
‘An artist is an instrument through which the Universe reveals itself’ – Goldschneider & Elffers
The realisation of the Tao is a magical, ecstatic dance – the dance of yin-yang, of receptivity and responsiveness revealing a sacred reciprocity, the revelation of Nature as Creatrix.
In this magical dance of yin-yang, tensions are transmuted into new dawns of becomings, where being and doing cohere. It is here we taste the Tao (aka, the Shekinah, Akasha, Divine Ground, Nature, Great Mystery, Motherly Space, Ma’at, Aluna, quantum vacuum, zero point field, dark energy, ground-of-all-being, all-nourishing-abyss).
As the quantum scientist Ervin Laszlo notes,
‘The dance of our mind with the quantum vacuum links us with other minds around us… it opens our mind to society, to nature and to the universe. This openness has been known to mystics and sensitives, prophets and metaphysicians through the ages.’
It is what Zhang Bo Duan (of the eleventh century Taoist Classics) refers to as the T’ai Chi Dance of Ecstasy: an embodied immersion of ourselves within the Rainbow River of Chi flowing within and all around us. Words cannot do justice to such an ecstatic state of dynamic non equilibrium, this is an embodied feeling of being and doing laced with love and is quite beyond anything the ego-mind can grasp.
Early last year, I was invited to speak at a Heart Mind Body Spirit festival at the Rainbow T’ai Chi Chi Kung Centre in South Devon (check out the web site, it is guaranteed to make you smile :- )
It was here that I first met Master Peter Chin Kean Choy, a uniquely gifted teacher of ancient Taoist practices aimed at bringing the realisation of the Tao into our daily lives for heart-based living.
The Taoists studied the way of Nature some 2,500 years before Christ. They became aware of the tensions and rhythms of life: receptivity, responsiveness, reciprocity. It is the seemingly opposing tension of receptivity (yin) and responsiveness (yang) that provide for the sacred reciprocity abundant in Nature. It is the tensions that provide for the diversity of life; tensions as crucibles that leverage creativity, innovation, learning and development – no tensions, no music, no dance, no life.
The sacred feminine yin dances with the sacred masculine yang; an act of love making; spiralling, twisting vortices, eddies, undercurrents and waves, giving birth to a sacred reciprocity, an alchemic becoming blended of being and doing, the non-action within action. Self-awareness is our portal into perceiving this ocean of chi energy so that we may live in harmony: somatic, social and soulful awareness feeding our intention and attention.
The waves are never separate from the ocean. The ocean gives birth to the wave, yet each wave has its own unique form, its own distinguishing character while remaining part of the ocean. Every vibration of energy, every body is an expression of Nature. Receptivity originates. Without conscious awareness of our receptivity, our responsiveness becomes ungrounded, no longer flowing with the Tao and dis-ease ensues. We becomes out-of-kilter as we warp our way of attending towards an increasing tendency for ‘having’, ‘wanting’, ‘owning’, ‘consuming’.
In today’s busyness, fraught with stresses and strains, we have allowed ourselves to get caught up in the responsive yang-ness while severing our self-reflexivity from yin receptivity. We have caught ourselves up in our own ego-entrapment, deluded ourselves that the superficial ripples and waves upon the surface of the ocean are all there is. Our materialistic, narrowing-down lens corrupts us, undermining the way we relate with ourselves, each other and the world around us.
It is our natural yin-receptivity which connects us to the Source, to Tao, to Nature. The more we allow our ego-mind’s to separate our receptivity from our responsiveness, the more we separate our inner-sense from our outer actions and the more pathological and carcinogenic we become.
To deal with the symptoms plaguing us – whether it be climate change or debt-slavery – we need to deal with root causes: our way of communing with the Tao. The gentle movements of T’ai Chi are aimed at just this. Radical activism starts here within our heart of hearts, where illusions are shattered and beauty is born.
Bio-logically, we can understand these gentle movements as stimulating our body’s energy channels, helping the natural flow of chi in our muscles, ligaments and organs. This enhances the electromagnetic channels between the gut, heart and brain, helping develop resilience, health and vitality as we engage with the tensions and strains of life.
Also, these gentle movements bring our awareness into our bodies as we sense the subtle energies, in-so-doing shifting our attention out of the ego-chattering brain into the bodymind. This somatic awareness allows for a coherence of our left and right brain hemispheres along with coherence of the head with the heart and gut. It is with this coherence that we open up to our natural receptivity – the yin-ness within. This allows us to gain direct perception of life, unfettered from the abstractions of our ego-awareness and left-brain’s grasping, atomising, narrowing-down tendency.
This opening of our doors of perception allows us to sense an ecological awareness of the rich interplaying ecology of life, an inter-relational orchestra of Nature. This heightens our bodymind’s receptivity to the subtle perturbations within us and all around us. We feel more alive and more present. In turn this allows our responsiveness – our yang-ness – to dance with this receptivity. Our outer actions attune with our inner-sense. Our doing attunes with our being. Receptivity flows through our responsiveness so that we relate to the world around us with an attentive, compassionate, sympathetic, wise attention. From the dance of receptivity and responsiveness is born a sacred reciprocity, as we begin to consciously take part in the Dance of Life. This is the way of the Tao.
‘Know the male,
Yet keep to the female’ – Lao Tzu
As we cultivate this yin-feminine-receptive awareness, we open up to the natural awakenings of our intuition and insight that the ocean of wisdom within and all around us contains.
Mastering the yin-yang, being-doing, inner-outer tensions of life is an alchemic life-process which allows us to open up to the Mind of Nature as we surrender in service to something far greater than our ego-chattering masturbating monkey-minds would have us see.
To align with the Tao is to align with creation and transform our foolish hubris into wise humility. This is at the heart of any regenerative, restorative socio-economic business.
To be in harmony with Nature – this feels like what life is teaching us, and the ancient ways of T’ai Chi, and other ancient shamanic, alchemic traditions show us the way, if we so choose to look.
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We are in the midst of an evolutionary step change in how we operate and organise: a shift from linear, mechanistic, control-based modes toward living, emergent, self-organising, life-affirming ways. This shift demands a letting-go of old, ingrained ways of being and doing and a letting-come of fresh (yet also timeless) ways found within the Mind of Nature. This is a shift in human consciousness no less.
‘The major problems in the world are the results of the difference between how Nature works and the way people think’ – Gregory Bateson
As I have said earlier in Steps Towards A Deeper Ecology of Business, our dominant cultural narrative (mythos) and its organisational logic (logos) is transforming right before our very eyes. Amid the stresses and strains of the every-day we may not always sense this seismic transformation or be aware of how much is actually shifting within and all around us. And such times of change inevitably invoke fear and denial. Clinging to the tried-and-tested safety of the status quo is a quite natural reaction, yet it only delays the inevitable, in fact it creates greater turbulence ahead as eddies and undercurrents of these transforming seas build up around us as we hold-on rather than learning to sail the stormy seas.
‘Proposals for transformational change will be derided and, when they gain traction, resisted at every turn. It is true but too easy to say that the resistance will come from entrenched interests. It will come from ourselves. We are the consumers and the employees, and we are easily seduced. – James Gustave Speth
We now have evidence of a variety of organisations throughout the world successfully putting into practice new ways that challenge the out-dated, yet still dominant, paradigm of top-down command-and-control hierarchies and short-termist KPI obsessed cultures, as well as the trend towards resilient, optimising, adaptive, systems-based, values-led, regenerative businesses inspired by nature (see Firms of the Future – businesses inspired by nature).
We know that organisations, communities, cultures and socio-economics of the future need to be not just inspired by but also in harmony with Nature. So what does this mean for you and me? The good news is that it means becoming more alive, authentic, creative, playful and in love.
Otto Sharmer and Katrin Kaufer in Leading from the Emerging Future articulate some principles of emerging organisations and ecosystems: openness, transparency, sharing, intention, holding space, conversation, awareness (from ego to ecological awareness), commons, playfulness, diversity and symbiosis. These living, emergent soulful organisations are safe places for us to let-go of our ego-masks and be our selves. Our work contributes to our personal growth rather than stunting us.
There are time honored practices and techniques we can learn to integrate into our daily lives to help us catalyze this shift in our ways of thinking, feeling, intuiting and relating in business and beyond.
- Discuss the profound shifts afoot in business and beyond and explore how these relate to our ways of leading and living in volatile times.
- Assist leaders, managers and change agents in catalysing and sustaining transformation.
- Experience and embody the Mind of Nature, enabling us to be more effective in transforming our organisations.
- Explore ways of applying this deeper awareness to our sense of purpose, organisational culture and ways of working.
- Undertake transformational practices that can form part of our daily lives, including post-workshop content and network.
To book your place (cost of £200 including lunch, etc.), email Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org , places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.
We are living through a crucial time where we bear witness to a profound opening between two worldviews, that of yesterday’s story, scientific mind-set and socio-economic behaviour and the emerging dawn of tomorrow whereupon the mind-sets and cultural scaffolding of old melts away in an alchemic co-creation of new pathways. This moment of metamorphosis in our midst is what the ancient Greeks called Kairos – a supreme moment of indeterminable time which, if not adequately engaged, embodied and acted upon, may pass us by.
So let’s cut to the chase. The root cause of our carcinogenic culture is a corrupting logic at deep and partly unconscious levels. It is a logic that sets us apart from, and in competition with, our own true nature, each other and the world around us. It creates a flawed philosophical, scientific and socio-economic worldview of anthropocentric materialism pervading our daily consciousness to such an extent that much of our collective activity assumes it to be just-the-way-life-is. As a result, many of our well-intended sustainability solutions apply the very same logic that created the problems in the first place with seemingly competing urgencies vying for our attention.
Findings in quantum physics, facilitation ecology, neuroscience, transpersonal psychology and many other disciplines, are shedding light on what ancient minds have long known: Far from our bodies being dis-embodied, as they are in our prevalent mind-divorced-from-matter philosophy, our bodies are resonating within a flux of interrelations, embedded and embodied in a rich unfolding Dance of multiplicity-in-unity. Patterns of meaningful interrelations abound within a sea of synchronicity. This is Nature raw and feral, uncut by the dissecting Cartesian mind, where true reality may be glimpsed, however fleetingly, in its awe-inspiring unfathomable wisdom beyond words. The process of life is re-cognised as an organic participation within this cosmic Dance, where the importance of pattern and relation as ebbing and flowing ripples within a deeper oceanic presence is deeply known. Each and every moment is imbued with consciousness as a sentient, holy presence. As William Blake knew, ‘Everything that lives is holy’.
The word ‘holy’ creates unease in our materialistic culture. It is an old word with the same root as the word ‘healthy’ and, as the author David Cadman has said, ‘it speaks of humility and reverence that is no longer common’, a timeless way of being that arises when we are truly ourselves. Through our attunement with what is in this present moment of life we realise this holiness. As we open ourselves up to the Dance, through nothing simpler than allowing the all-pervasive holy presence to permeate our awareness, we begin to allow a remembrance of our true nature, beyond separation. Here we begin to awaken the Eye of the Heart which mystics such as Meister Eckhart have long spoken of. It is a way of being that is quite natural and yet radically different from that which prevails today. Einstein spoke of ‘holy curiosity’ – a direct perception of life unfettered by ego-entrapment. It is this full-bodied awareness that enables us to perceive reality beyond the illusion of separation, an illusion we have created with our own self-reflexive minds. This holy curiosity is a vibrant and vivid, expansive and enchanting, pregnant quality of presence; a naked, fertile embracement of Nature; a shamanic experience that touches the plenitude of the soul. As phenomenologist Cheryl Sanders-Sardello explains:
‘To be here requires attention, listening, and gazing deeply without assaulting each thing seen with a conclusion. The silence here is not just in the ‘what has been’, it is most deliciously waiting, too, in the ‘what will be’.
To embrace life with holy curiosity is our choice, a simple case of intention and attention.
Scientific studies have shown that when we embody this holy way of being our left and right brain hemispheres cohere, our neo-cortex brain activity entrains with our heart’s electromagnetic pulse, stem cell production increases, as do rates of tissue repair, hormonal changes occur and our senses liven. Our intuition improves markedly as quietening ego-chatter gives way to the subtle wisdom of the heart. With this holiness, we become not only healthier but also wiser.
Inviting this sacred presence into our daily consciousness is the most profound undertaking as it robs the illusion at source and allows our thoughts, words and deeds to self-right themselves. Our way of attending becomes one of care rather than control, of humility rather than hubris, and of synchronicity rather than separateness. This emancipation from egotism allows a more loving attention of thy self and thy neighbour. This is the common ground of humankind’s destiny within which we each have unique tunes to play. From this sacred place we can co-create our flourishing future.
‘The modern condition of soiling our nest reflects how we’ve become dissociated from our somas, our communities, and the earth itself. This has become a pathological condition so widespread that we think of it as normal…When we feel ourselves as part of Nature we invoke a vast intelligence that is both deeply spacious and deliriously ecstatic. When we tie in with the life force it rights us from our distractions and reconnects us to the rapture of life.’ Richard Strozzi-Heckler
While it may not always feel like it, we are in the midst of a seismic paradigm shift. The challenge of our time is less about intellectualising adaptations utilising yesterday’s logic, and more about creating space within our manic schedules for a real embodiment of the innate wisdom life affords us.
As the Presocratic Greek philosopher Thales famously noted, all things are full of God. Every particle and every vibration within it flows with holiness and now is the time to consciously step into this holy river.
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Giles Hutchins – author of The Illusion of Separation
There is much to be downbeat about these days: Whether it’s the daily drip feed of fear-filled news from around the world, or the woeful state of our debt-based economies closer to home relentlessly sucking the lifeblood out of our inner and outer worlds.
In these stormy seas, we can easily lose sense of what is really going on, where the tide is really taking us. These transformational times inevitably invoke fear and can keep us clinging to out-dated modes of being and doing, constricting the very creativity, inspiration and adaptive flair we need to sail these stormy seas to calmer waters.
We are in the midst of a metamorphosis of epic proportions; an evolution of humanity’s consciousness no less with positive repercussions now evident in business and beyond. And this is just the beginning.
Here are some familiar cases to remind ourselves of how far we have already begun to move away from the logic of yesterday:
From as early as I can recall, I have been deeply in love with life, with Nature. Then, as I grew up, the tragic reality of our sense of separation from Nature painfully dawned on me. I searched for what was behind this corruption, hoping to find some rhyme or reason, but alas found only illusion.
In our busy humdrum of everyday living, we live largely devoid of the visceral awareness of real life and our real nature. So divorced we have become, so dis-embodied from the very natural awareness that is right within us. It does not take much insight to see that our current ‘civilisation’ is caught up in endless errands and activities aimed at solving the cravings of our grasping, anxious egos and in-so-doing only polluting ourselves and our world as we lose sight of the very thing that provides us meaning and aliveness. The illusion in our midst is in desperate need of being shattered. But this can be threatening to our ego’s comfort blanket of security and separateness. To breakout of the endless cravings without a taste of what lies beyond is no mean feat.
‘Understanding the illusion only comes after the understanding of reality, not before…Until we have the experience of reality, in all its stillness, we are still lost.’ – Peter Kingsley
Today’s society breeds psychic atrophy and physical violence. Acculturated habits and behaviours feed a vicious cycle of consumeristic materialism twisting us down economic pathways we then struggle to escape from: enter debt-based materialism enslaving many of today’s families, organisations and institutions. The more we get caught up in the illusion, the more it pollutes our attention and intention, infecting how we relate to ourselves, each other and the world around us. Yes, most certainly, there are powerful forces at play that benefit from keeping us so hopelessly dependent upon this cancerous consumerism. And yet none but ourselves can free our minds from this mental slavery, as Bob Marley knew.
The way out of this dangerous delusion and back into reality is through Nature. By ‘Nature’ I do not mean something ‘out there’, but the very ground-of-being within and all around us; the intangible (psychic) and tangible (physical) worlds we are immersed within. By learning to open ourselves us to this ground-of-being, we rob the illusion of its conscious energy by bringing our attention into reality. Through the quality of our attention we can learn to attune with Nature. Interestingly, this is what all the ancient wisdom traditions agree on and it is what the shamanic and tantric cultures of old have understood for millennia. It is only our current cultural spasm of humanity that has largely forgotten this primordial truth.
With recent advances in neuroscience, Western science is coming to terms with the fact that the brain is just one organ of perception within a ‘bodymind’ network of perception (we now know the heart and gut are powerful neural organs which inter-relate with the brain and wider nervous, hormonal and lymphatic networks). Western science is also coming to terms with the fact that we are not separate organisms struggling for survival in a competitive world, but that we live within a sea of sentience, of electromagnetic and non-local quantum inter-relations. Our ‘bodyminds’ are our vessel for sensing and responding – consciously and unconsciously – amid this sea of sentience within and all around us: perceived this way we begin to see daily life as a somatic, social and soulful swim in the spontaneous synchronistic currents of Sophia (Nature’s wise ways which we would do well to attune to).
(above image from Holonomics, by Simon and Maria Robinson)
In learning to develop our felt sense of being-in-the-world, we can become more conscious of the subtle, energetic perturbations within and all around us. The more aware we become, the more alive and vital we are, and the more resilient we are to challenges and tensions, intuitions and perturbations in our environment. We regain our sense of soma and our sense of the innermost weave of the world, as Goethe described it, which is our soulful way of being beyond the superficiality of the fragmenting ego ‘I’. The real pursuit of happiness is found in this way of being, in the very poiesis (calling forth) of life, not through the fickle ego’s endless grasping of having, wanting, owning, controlling, consuming but in the natural flow of grace beyond illusion.
‘To be fully present in this moment is a lifelong enterprise. To be centered is to be present with self, others and the environment; it’s to be open to the wisdom and intelligence of life; it’s to be deeply connected to what is sacred and holy…we discover the sacred that exists within our somatic process. The divine that lies below the daily protocols and routines of our programmed life is revealed to us. Our chest fills with warmth; there’s more room for others, as well as the grasses, the dome of sky, the stones, animals, and waters. We come into contact with our interconnectedness with all life, animate and inanimate. We’re touched by something holy’ – Richard Strozzi-Heckler
And so, learning to live in harmony with Nature is the most radical of undertakings and the foundation for any sustainable future. As we re-member this path of living in harmony with Nature it becomes the only path worth our walk. I say ‘re-member’ as it is a re-membering of who we are, an embodied felt-sense – a somatic membering – of our own selves as social, soulful inter-related beings: sacred expressions in a sacred world.
We may learn to attend to our bodily experiences through engaging in certain practices such as somatic bodywork, contemplative practices, dance, breath-work, expressive arts therapy, chanting, yoga, t’ai chi, qigong, etc.. Yet, lest we forget, our everyday living provides us with a richness of bodily sensations. As we go about our daily activities – pavement walking, sipping a cuppa, listening to another, catching a stranger’s smile or eye, tripping upon ourselves, feeling the wind on our skin, sensing our heart flutter with the rhythm on the radio or a passing scent of another – we can bring ourselves home to our being-in-the-world, awaken our attention to the present moment. The more we sense this somatic awareness, the more we cultivate this awareness, the more we open up to this beautiful and wise world beyond the narrowing-down confines of our ego-chatter. This is real life untamed, unfettered, wild and raw: Nature uncut and well beyond anything we can own, confine, control or define.
We are living and breathing the consequences of a disembodied life which impoverishes us emotionally, socially, economically, environmentally and spiritually. We are suffering from poverty at the most fundamental of levels – a poverty of spirit which de-sacralises life itself. This poverty undermines our relationship with our selves, each other and the wider world. We rectify this polluting paradigm by simply bringing our awareness into our bodies and into the presencing of life unadulterated by our own illusions. Small steps with full-bodied attentive awareness will get us out of this pickle, nothing more, nothing less.
Each moment offers us the chance to place these small steps of change.
‘We cannot do great things, we can only do small things with great love’ – Mother Teresa
We are expressions of Nature and we all have the natural capacity to remember this sacred Dance of Life; it is running through our veins and beating in our hearts. Through attention and intention, we can permit ourselves to fall back in love with life.
‘This is my church. This is where I heal my hurts. It’s in natural grace’ – Faithless
‘Choose your future. Choose life.’ – Trainspotting
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Also see here for a recent Conscious.tv interview
And a Podcast series about living beyond illusion.
It is easy to blame societal and environmental ills on powerful elites, big business, greedy bankers, corrupt politicians and corporate fat cats; perhaps easier still to blame it all on the ‘system’. But let’s be honest, if only for the briefest of moments. We are all complicit in the current state of affairs, we the people, the consumers, employees, voters, citizens, neighbours, friends, foes, blamers and blamed. The seismic state of affairs demands a sea change from blame, resentment, fear and loathing. It’s time to awaken something deeper within and all around us.
Yes, there is most certainly a crying need for new ways of operating and organizing; and this involves us all. Yet, before we get busy, first and foremost, we need to wake up from our own delusion. And for that we need nothing more than our own intention and attention. What’s at stake here is our sense of self, our sense of society and our sense of humanity, beyond blame.
How often, in our busyness to fix things, do we pause to ponder what lies at the heart of all our problems? How often, in our rush to improve our situation and achieve more, do we catch a glimpse of reality beyond illusion? First we must recognise that we are largely caught up in our own cacophony of confusion. We must personally take on-board that it is our rushing around trying to find substitutes for the real thing that is pushing us further away from who we truly are. Only then will we be able to free ourselves and our well-intended ‘solutions’ from the flawed logic that created this untenable situation in the first place.
‘We think that being practical means keeping busy getting on with our lives, rushing from one distraction to another, finding more and more substitutes for what we dimly sense but don’t know how to face or discover.’ – Peter Kingsley
What I find so positive about the recent surge of interest in mindfulness in business is that as we can embrace a simple and effective daily practice of focusing our intention and attention. Through time-honoured contemplative practices such as meditation, holotropic breathing, journeying, Nature-immersions and embodiment activities such as dance, T’ai Chi and yoga, we allow our doors of perception to open up and the restrictive shell of our ego-self to permeate more readily with the world. Our everyday awareness, which is largely littered with fragmentary busyness, is enriched with a wellspring of inspiration and wisdom that life affords us.
Such a practical activity is to remember the origins of our Western civilisation and philosophy, to live in love of Sophia – Nature’s wisdom flowing within and all around us; a theory and practice that has been warped, misrepresented and trampled over in our head-long rush into materialism whereupon we grasp at abstractions while over-looking the real thing. These times of transformation and upheaval stimulate us to glimpse into the eye-of-the-heart of reality, if we dare look. This fuller perspective of reality is not for the faint-hearted as it requires courage both to let-go of ingrained acculturations and to let-come the uncertain unknown uncontrollable wildness beyond our domesticated numbness.
Through our own intention and attention we shape our perceptual frame influencing how we relate to: our deeper sense of self (our somatic and soulful ‘bodymind’ with its sensuous sea of spiralling yin-yang vortices, and its repressed emotions, wild undercurrents and urges, instinctual and archetypal resonances, and subtle perturbations of heartfelt intuitive wisdom); and, our social relations within the world (the human and more-than-human physical and psychical inter-related matrix of reality we find ourselves immersed within).
Through nothing simpler than stillness, we may open up to the wellspring within – the intimacy of our inner-sense – then a somatic-social-soulful sentience flows through our relations, nourishing our worldview. Put another way, by consciously opening our doors of perception beyond the narrow-mindedness of rationalistic materialism we learn to reconnect with the wisdom within and all around us, in-so-doing gain a deeper sense of intimacy, love and meaning in our lives. This is the beginning of our future, unfettered by yesterday’s logic of separation, competition and domination.
Through our conscious intent we can train ourselves to become actively attentive; training ourselves to transcend the constricting perspectives of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ Neo-Darwinism infecting our socio-economic and political worldviews today.
Neuro-imaging of the brain shows that the more we practice opening up to this deeper consciousness, the more our brain’s plasticity (ability to adapt) increases as does our baseline ability to perceive reality beyond the ego’s illusion of separation. We not only become more resilient but also more wise. So, the more we practice this state of presence through our intention and attention, the more the illusion is robbed of its conscious energy and the easier it becomes to actively engage in our emerging future unpolluted by the same thinking that created the problems in the first place.
‘The Western mind has trouble stopping its clock. It conceives its inmost life as a biological clock and its heart as a ticker… To change how we see things takes falling in love. Then the same becomes altogether different. Like love, a shift of sight can be redemptive…you get something back for what you had misperceived as merely worthless. The noisome symptoms of every day can be revalued and their usefulness reclaimed.’ – James Hillman
Rehabilitating our somatic-social-soulful selves is primary and fundamental for the future of our humanity, not a luxury nice-to-have.
The ancient wisdom traditions and pioneering discoveries of quantum physics point to the same essential wisdom, that through our intention and attention we can train ourselves to attune with the inter-relatedness of life. Through our conscious awareness of the ever-evolving moment, freed from abstractions of space-time bound linearity, we can swim with the stream and attune with the Dance of Life. This is to perceive our true humanity. This is an opening up of our soul and a revitalisation of our six senses (the sixth being intuition, which, as Einstein knew, is a sacred gift our current society has largely forgotten).
Why choose illusion when you can choose reality through nothing more simple than our intention and attention.
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View a presentation on ‘A Radical Review of Reality’ here
What a wonderful time of year Easter is, as the last vestiges of winter-time give way to spring-time’s longer days and shorter nights, and the first feelings of summer-time emerge once again. It is a time of lambs, chicks, tadpoles, green shoots, the emerging bumble bee and butterfly. Nature’s fecundity abounds.
Easter has long been a time associated with eggs, chicks, bunnies, hares and so forth – what is the deeper mythos behind this?
‘Easter’ as a word finds its roots in the Old English word Ēostre which relates to the Old German word Ostara – referring to a Germanic divinity, a goddess. Pagan Anglo-Saxons used to celebrate this time of year (which used to be called Ēosturmōnaþ before the Christian Paschal calendar replaced it with the month of April) with feasts in honour of the goddess Eostre. Eostre is the goddess of the dawn and bringer of light which finds its origins in the goddess Ausos (with Baltic, Celtic, Greek, Indo-Persian, Babylonian, Sumerian and Egyptian influences). The old Norse word austr and the Latin word auster both meaning ‘new dawn’.
The time of Easter revolves around the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox (21st March). In our Christian era, Easter has come to represent the Crucifixion (Good Friday) and Resurrection of Christ (Easter Sunday), which is celebrated on the first Sunday after the Full Moon after the Equinox (and so the dates of Easter can vary from 22nd March to 25th April).
Three hares within a circle can be found throughout medieval churches, as can images of eggs, spirals and the Green Man, each portraying aspects of the indwelling Spirit within Nature (World Soul).
‘Thou Nature art my goddess. To thy law my services are bound.’ – Shakespeare
It has long been understood, yet largely forgotten, that the ‘hermaphrodite hares’ (and other sacred Nature images) represent the fertility of the cyclic, spiraling, unfolding, reproducing nature of Nature. The cosmic womb of Nature from which everything spawns and decomposes into, is our ground-of-being. These images of Easter can help remind us of our lives immersed within this psychical and physical Nature.
Beyond the commodification of sacred symbols lies a deeper wisdom that resonates with the contemporary findings of biodynamics, permaculture, quantum physics, biophilia and ecological psychology. We human beings, along with every living organism and every atom or ‘wavicle’ of energy in this world, are immersed in a matrix of inter-relatedness, an ocean of metaphysical Nature.
To recognise, remember and open up to this ground-of-being is the essential purpose of Easter (whether through the fasting and prayer of Holy Week culminating in the Resurrection of Christ or the sacred rituals, dancing and earth ceremonies of paganism attuning us with goddess Eostre). Right before our very noses is the subtle scent of a deeper sentience so often ignored as we consume copious amounts of chocolate chicks, eggs and bunnies.
There is more – so much more … if we so choose to look. Within and all around us is an over-flowing vessel of wisdom.
These Easter symbols are like tips of icebergs floating upon a vast matrix of myth and legend.
The hermaphrodite hares, the cracking-open of the egg, the seed germinating into green shoots, the mischievous leafy head of the Green Man, the birthing bounty of bunnies, the full Moon after the solstice, the resurrection of Christ, all point to an underlying Truth that we are so often too busy and blinkered to see.
‘Truth is a torch, but a tremendous one. That is why we hurry past it, shielding our eyes, even terrified of getting burnt.’ – Goethe
The Robin Hood myth, for instance, is based on a far older myth, a story of the seemingly opposing tensions of the year (winter and summer, decomposition and regeneration, death and birth, receptivity and responsiveness) engaged in a tussle, a struggle, a dance, an attunement: The King of Winter giving way to the King of Summer in order to win the heart of the Maiden of Spring; The death of the Old King in ancient Alchemy giving way to a ‘new dawn’ of golden awareness; A breaking open of the ego-egg into a deeper ecological-self within the World Soul of Nature; A communion of the yang creative energies and the yin receptivity giving birth to new harmonics of life, the marriage of sacred masculine and sacred feminine aspects within us to spawn forth new ways of being and doing.
It is an ancient yet fresh mythos which all the great hero stories recount in myriad ways – the hero’s journey into the deeper, darker, wildness and instinctual forces of Nature in order to retrieve the treasure – the elixir of life – which gifts the hero with a Divine outpouring of Beauty. This elixir or ecstasy is a home-coming or re-birthing from separation into re-cognition of the ground of being – a cosmic communion of self within Nature.
We may feel glimpses of this home-coming when we touch our souls through our presencing of the moment or loving attention or sacred imagination. If only for the briefest of moments we become conscious of the divine mystery within and all around us, an unchained melody within the Dance of Life.
Three Hares Image – Paderborner Dom Dreihasenfenster by Zefram
Three hares within the mandala circle of life portraying the multiplicity within unity, the diversity of Nature within the Divine.
Below is a sacred geometric pattern that shows how the pattern the interlacing ears of the hares make embodies a deeper matrix of reality beyond the illusion of separation.
We may also notice that this pattern of inter-lacing circles is the origin of the vesica pisces of Christianity, as well as the origin of ancient symbols found throughout Alchemic, Tantric and Shamanic wisdom traditions the world over.
And so, Easter is a celebration that helps us remember the sacredness of life.
We may begin to sense the Logos, Word, Nature, Soul, Divine, Shekinah, Tao, Akasha, Aluna, Alchemy, Spirit that this Easter time celebrates – an awakening awareness flowing into the world through our own attention and intention. A soul-ful way of relating with self, other, Nature. A resurrection no less, whereupon Christ, Soul, Eostre flow through all we do.
It is in this moment of ecstatic awareness that we realise what Jesus was pointing to when he said: ‘Cleave a wood; I am there. Raise up a stone, and you will find me there.’ This is re-membering our true nature, and it is what these ancient festivals, ceremonies and symbols are here to remind us of.
It is our forgotten sense of the sacred sentience of life that underlies all our current crises. Deal with this and you deal with causes (materialism and anthropocentrism) and their downstream effects (social, environmental and economic degradation).
This is what the book The Illusion of Separation is focused on.